In this week’s parsha we talk about the meaning of independence from material gains.

Have you ever noticed, while walking your dog or observing pet owners with their dogs, the pet running ahead and pulling its owner along? You wonder who is in charge… the person or the animal.

Similarly, we often wonder, does our money take charge of us or are we in charge of our money? Do we live to make money or make money in order to live? We need to use our money as a means to an end, to better our lives and the lives of those around us.

In this week’s parsha, the Jewish people contributed their wealth for the building of the mishkan, a temporary temple in the desert. They gave their gold and silver for the manufacturing of vessels to be used in the service of G-d. They controlled their money, using it for positive matters, and did not allow it to take control over them.

Reb Pinchas Reitzes, a wealthy chossid, prescribed to this philosophy. He lived in a very large and beautiful house. When asked how he, a chossid, could spend so much money on a materialistic object he responded, “Traditionally, community meetings are conducted in the fanciest house in the neighborhood. Since my house is the most elegant the meetings take place there. This gives me greater say in policy-making. In this way I am able to accomplish much good.”

We work hard for our money. Sometimes, we lose ourselves within it. So consider this: which would you rather be, the owner or the pet?